There have been three outsourcing deal announcements over the previous few weeks that have all had some connection to the development of Smart Cities.

The concept of Smart Cities is not a new one, but so far we have not seen too much real progress in this area, maybe because the city authorities are still struggling to provide the basic services within their tight budgets. This is where outsourcing can help by taking over much of the day-to-day running of the IT services, allowing the authorities, usually with the service providers help, to focus on making their cities smarter.

Smart Cities are (according to Wikipedia) “urban areas that use different types of electronic data collection sensors to supply information which is used to manage assets and resources efficiently. This includes data collected from citizens, devices, and assets that is processed and analysed to monitor and manage traffic and transportation systems, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, information systems, schools, libraries, hospitals, and other community services.” In particular, the IT systems are used to improve the quality and performance of the city’s services, thus reducing costs and resource usage and, perhaps most importantly, to increase engagement of the citizens and the authorities.

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The first deal of note is that between Sopra Steria and the municipality of Oslo in Norway. The 10 year deal aims to modernise the city’s IT operations platform, allowing the people of Oslo to have easier access to new digital services. The deal provides the chance for the city’s 53,000 employees to focus on providing new services for their citizens, whilst Sopra Steria get on with owning and managing the IT infrastructure and day-to-day operations. The flexibility of the IT services, which allows access to all major cloud platforms including Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud and Amazon Web Services, will mean that new services can be quickly added and provisioned, using whichever is the most appropriate technology.

For the London Borough of Croydon, they have engaged the digital transformation capabilities of Rainmaker to deploy the council’s ‘good to great programme’, which aims to design effective and efficient IT systems and programmes for employees and citizens. Their approach moves away from large, single deals for outsourcing to an eco-system of best-of-breed suppliers, which Rainmaker will help deliver. The Croydon authorities are particularly keen to provide the best services possible for their residents and enabling technology to make a tangible difference to people’s lives.

The Jeddah Tower is a very different sort of smart city – one that will eventually be over a kilometre tall. It is being built in the City of Jeddah on the Red Sea coast in Saudi Arabia, and Orange Business Services will be providing ‘smart city consulting services’ to the developers, the Jeddah Economic Company. The 168 floor building will include residential apartments, offices, retail leisure and entertainment, hotels and tourism attractions public and cultural amenities. Orange will provide digital technologies that they hope will have a transformative impact on the way people live and how businesses will work in the future.

Whether it’s capital cities, London boroughs or cities in the sky, the ability for outsourcing firms to help enable the future of smart cities is clear, as demonstrated by these recent deals. If the relevant authorities can make the most of the extra capacity and the new technologies then it should be the citizens that ultimately benefit.

About the author

Andrew Burgess has been the lead architect within several major change projects, including strategic development, IT transformation and outsourcing, in a wide range of industries across four continents. He has developed and implemented sourcing strategies for global organisations, running sourcing programs and helping re-organise IT departments to maximise their value from sourcing. Andrew was recently awarded ‘Automation Champion of the Year’ by the GSA, the industry association and professional body for the global sourcing industry. He is widely considered to be a leading expert in the growing Legal Transformation and Outsourcing market and has recently written ‘The Rise of Legal Services Outsourcing’ in collaboration with the London School of Economics (LSE). Andrew’s latest book, ‘The Executive Guide to Artificial Intelligence‘ has recently been published by Palgrave Macmillan. Andrew is a council member of the Global Sourcing Association and is Head of Consulting at HG Insights.